Despite yoga’s ancient Indian roots, it sometimes seems like you need to be a thin, white female to practice and enjoy its amazing benefits. But Setu, a yoga community that embraces inclusivity of all types, is dedicated to smashing those stereotypes.
The powerhose yogis of the Setu network (including body-positivity advocate Jessamyn Stanley) are dedicated to promoting inclusivity in the yoga community and shutting down any stigmas that might discourage minority groups from taking part in what could potentially be a rewarding and life-altering experience.
This week the Setu team debuted a powerful campaign titled “I See You.” It features nine yogis of different nationalities, races, ages, gender identities, body types, and life stories taking turns sharing how their unexpected presence in the yoga world is breaking the mold and forcing others to open their minds.
“I was excited to put these teachers in the spotlight and have them share their story,” Setu founder Libby Nicholaou said in a press release. “Setu seeks to empower people to express who they are and to feel seen and heard. I envision this video as a place maker for conversations to come, giving space for others to share themselves and their own experiences.”
The video was created in collaboration with independent director Jacob Krupnick and captures diverse yogis “physically and verbally ‘flowing’ beneath pools of stage light.”
In the black and white video, Erica Garcia, owner of Nueva Alma Yoga and Wellness Studio, can be heard saying, “I am not what they’re used to seeing or what’s been portrayed, so when they walk in and see a thick bodied, in-your-face Puerto Rican from the Bronx with big hair, I don’t fit what they’ve been sold.”
“People assume that because I have a bigger body, I’m not as athletic,” says yoga instructor Megan Goldberg, who identifies as LGBTQ. “What’s more important? I hide the fact that I have this stomach or that I can work with it in order to hit the pose?”
Yoga practitioners are encouraged to use Setu’s directory, which you can filter to find local instructors that best adhere to your specific needs, such as restoration, alignment, mindfulness, or spirituality. Also featured is a curated library of free online yoga classes and a heartwarming dose of inclusivity.
Princess Gabbara is a multimedia journalist and storyteller. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @PrincessGabbara. Visit her website at princessgabbara.com.